Business groups call for passage of tariff bill

More than 130 business groups on Tuesday called for Congress to pass legislation that they said would cut millions in manufacturing costs by reducing tariffs on imported products.

The groups are pressing for passage of a long-expired miscellaneous tariff bill (MTB) that would slash or eliminate tariffs on components that manufacturers use in their products that are not readily available domestically.

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“This distortion places an unnecessary and anti-competitive tax on manufacturers, retailers, and other businesses in the United States that rely on imported products not available domestically,” the groups wrote in a letter to Congress obtained by The Hill.  

“Each subsequent day, small, medium and large manufacturers in industries ranging from agriculture and electronics to textiles, chemicals and beyond have been paying tariffs on inputs necessary to manufacture their products, undermining their competitiveness, raising their costs and hurting their ability to retain and create manufacturing jobs in the United States,” the groups wrote. 

The tariff-relief measure expired at the end of 2012.

For more than three years, the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) has been pushing for a renewal. 

The group supports a Senate bill — introduced last week by Sens. Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanOn The Money: Trump, China announce 'Phase One' trade deal | Supreme Court takes up fight over Trump financial records | House panel schedules hearing, vote on new NAFTA deal Here are the Senate Republicans who could vote to convict Trump Lawmakers call for investigation into program meant to help student loan borrowers with disabilities MORE (R-Ohio), Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillGinsburg health scare raises prospect of election year Supreme Court battle MSNBC's McCaskill: Trump used 'his fat thumbs' to try to intimidate Yovanovitch GOP senator rips into Pelosi at Trump rally: 'It must suck to be that dumb' MORE (D-Mo.), Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), and Richard BurrRichard Mauze BurrGOP senators request interview with former DNC contractor to probe possible Ukraine ties North Carolina congressman says he won't seek reelection after redistricting Senate passes bipartisan bill to permanently fund historically black colleges MORE (R-N.C.) — that would update the tariff policy. 

The groups wrote that passage of the Senate bill “would create a transparent, objective, predictable and regularized process for Congress to consider and enact MTBs to correct these longstanding distortions in the U.S. tariff code.” 

The Senate bill would simplify the MTB process by allowing companies to apply directly for tariff relief.

“American workers can go head-to-head with foreign competitors when operating on a level playing field, but unfair tariffs put them at a disadvantage,” Portman said after introducing the bill on April 16. 

A National Association of Manufacturers analysis shows that the delay in renewing the legislation has resulted in an annual $748 million tax hike on U.S. manufacturing and a $1.875 billion economic loss to the nation's economy.

“Small businesses seeking tariff relief should be able to access that relief in a transparent, streamlined way that’s based solely on merit — and that’s something folks on both sides of the aisle can get behind,” McCaskill said.